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Driving in Madeira – What are the roads like?

Drive the scary roads of Madeira Island, Portugal

Driving in Madeira can be loads of fun for us driving enthusiasts.

The windy scenic roads, the views and maybe even the challenging uphill climbs can be an exciting adventure for some but for others can very quickly turn into a nightmare. Driving in Madeira is no simple task and when considering how you’ll be seeing the island, ask yourself this question, Do I consider myself a good enough driver to take on the challenge?

Typically, you’ll find 3 different types of roads in Madeira. Super comfortable highways and expressways, windy uphill “double lane” roads and narrow, steep and possibly scary roads. If it looks as if it’s too scary for you, best you turn around and find a new route, it could get a whole lot worse!


a view of a car

To exit a roundabout in Portugal

By far the most common mistake I see tourists making regularly.

You stay on an inside lane until you approach the exit you want to take, then only move into the outside lane to actually take the exit. If you are in the outside lane and reach an exit, you must take the exit.

Put another way, in Portugal the inside lane has priority, not the outside lane. If you are in the outside lane and pass an exit then another vehicle inside you can cut across you to take the exit. This is the most common cause or accidents on roundabouts in Portugal.

This excerpt was taken from the following site, where you can find much more information on the driving laws in Portugal;

For some legal info on driving practices here in Madeira you can also check out;

Also, a good idea would be to get a car with some decent horsepower. I wouldn’t recommend getting the cheapest deal, you’ll have to work hard to get up the hills! Good insurance is a must, you don’t want to be looking for a bodyshop or worse waiting for the rental company to send you a bill for a dent or a scratch, easily attainable in the tight corners around the island. Be prepared to parallel park, sometimes on a hill. Knowing how to manoeuvre a car is an absolute must in Madeira and tight spaces are common.

It’s not all doom and gloom though! If you’re prepared for the challenge then you’ll enjoy some beautiful roads and breathtaking scenery! Here’s some tips on where to find them;

a jeep

If you’re staying Funchal, the only time you’ll really use the car is to go out and explore the rest of the island. In funchal you can get around with local buses and taxis quite affordably, no need to be driving around. This being said you want want determine exactly how much time you’re going to be allocating to exploring because if it’s only a couple of days you may be better off taking a tour. It might even work out cheaper funny enough!

So when would a rental car be an absolute life saver?

When you’re staying outside of Funchal. If you’re staying anywhere on the North Coast (most tour companies won’t pick you up) you’ll need a car to get around. If you’re staying up in the hills or even somewhere a bit further on the South coast such as Calheta, Ribeira Brava, Ponta do Pargo, Machico and Santa Cruz, you might wanna get a rental car.

So If you’re interested in getting to know “the wilder side” of the island and having someone show you the sights in style, go ahead and take advantage of our 2021 SALE! We’re giving away 21 percent off EVERYTHING, for the entirety of 2021! All you need to do is insert the promo code TWENTYONE at checkout to claim your discount.

Hope you guys enjoyed it and I’ll see you later!


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